Today’s a special day.
Not because it’s National Blueberry Pancake Day, but because it’s my one year blogging anniversary!
In all the things I’ve done in my life, starting a blog was by far one of the best. I gained confidence, became a professional copywriter, and made friends from all over the world.
In celebration and to thank everyone supportive of me this past year, I wrote up this detailed guide on starting a blog for all the overthinkers out there.
Starting a blog is scary and we all just want to do it right.
Don’t worry, though. I got you, boo. I was in your place once and I took notes for this purpose!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you sign up/purchase through my link, I make an itty-bitty commission, at no additional cost to you. You can read my full disclosure here.
Pick your niche
Ask yourself what you want to write about. Here’s a list of niches:
- All the hot spots in your city
- Health and Fitness
- Personal Development
- Health and Wellness
- Mental Health
- Home Decor
Don’t feel like you have to write about anything mentioned above. I think it’s a great idea to try something different if that’s what you want. It’ll help you stand out!
You can blog about all the forms of potatoes and I’m sure someone would read it. (French fries, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes — Yum! I’d read it!)
Most bloggers choose to do a lifestyle blog so they can write about more than one topic. This is what I did at first, but when I became a copywriter I turned my blog into a platform where I teach others about blogging, copywriting, and business.
It’s normal to change niches down the road. Don’t let that scare you or stop you from starting. The best way to learn is from experience.
Whatever you choose as your niche, make sure it’s something you’re passionate about. It should be something you can talk about non-stop. You don’t want blogging to feel like a chore.
Pro Tip: If you eventually plan on starting a business, consider blogging about your own industry! For example, if you want to start a photography business you can blog about all things photography. Blogging is beneficial for businesses!
Choose a domain name
Domain name = Website name
You can base your name on your niche, the name of your business, or you can use your own name.
I would recommend choosing a name that’s simple, easy to remember, and not too long.
If you can’t come up with a name, get a notebook, and have a brainstorming session. Jot down everything you’re debating on calling it. Here’s a picture of mine:
I didn’t come up with it right away, but the brainstorming session helped. The lightbulb over my head lit up when I was scrolling through Pinterest later that week… and Written by Bella was born!
(Most of your ideas will hit you when you’re not looking for them. Always step away and take breaks so you don’t burn yourself out. It’s part of the creative process!)
Choose a web host provider
Web hosts are companies that host websites. You pay them monthly or annually (annually is usually always cheaper) and in return, you have yourself a little space on the web!
I always recommend using GreenGeeks as a web host because they’re eco-friendly.
The impact the internet has on the environment is monstrous and if you make it a point to use reusable bags or eat vegan — this would be another great way to make a difference!
GreenGeeks puts back three times the energy they consume and their benefits are great as well! I go more into detail in this blog post about my experience hosting with them.
I use the WordPress hosting with GreenGeeks, meaning that’s the software I use to create my website.
GreenGeeks = Web host provider
WordPress.org = Software used to create a website
Sometimes WordPress.org gets confused with WordPress.com which is understandable. WordPress.com is free, but you won’t have as much freedom when it comes to customizing your site.
It also looks unprofessional. If I were using it, my website would be called writtenbybella.wordpress.com instead of writtenbybella.com. Need I say more?
Select your theme
Luckily, WordPress has a ton of free themes you can use to design your website.
The first one I ever used was free and it worked for me for a really long time!
Sometimes free themes can be limiting, but if you have some skill with HTML or CSS, you might be able to work around it. I also use the plugin Elementor to make my theme more customizable. It makes things super easy and you can find a lot of tutorials on YouTube to help you out.
If you don’t want to use one of the free themes on WordPress, Creative Market has some options too!
I wouldn’t spend too much time obsessing over your theme. (This is what I did and now looking back, I feel silly.) As long as you have something simple, easy to navigate, and nothing cluttered, you should be good!
Create your pages
Every website should have these pages:
- Home – This is the most visited page on your website. It needs to catch your visitor’s eyes in less than eight seconds in order for them to stay. Write a captivating headline that tells them who you are and what you do.
- About – Write about what your blog can do for your audience and introduce yourself after.
- Products/Services (if you sell something) – Promote your products or services.
- Contact – Put your email or contact form.
- Blog – Where all your blog posts will be listed.
Psst! If you want to know more about what each page on your website should say, you can sign up for my email list. I’m releasing a freebie soon on what to write for each page on your website while letting your personality shine. Those signed up to my list will be the first to know when it’s out!
Legally starting a blog
Starting a blog isn’t all fun. As mentioned above, you need legal pages.
When I learned about this, I thought to myself, “No big deal! I’ll just write my legal pages myself! I am a writer, after all!”
I sat down for a good hour until I finally decided, “Take my money, I don’t want to deal with this.”
It’s a good thing I did because you need a legal template written by a lawyer.
I use Amira’s Legal Bundle. If you look at her page, she makes it super freakin’ easy and explains it all to you.
Short for Search Engine Optimization — this is how you’ll get organic traffic from search engines. The better the SEO is on a blog post or page, the higher chance you have of showing up on the first page on Google.
You can install the plugin Yoast SEO to help with SEO on your website. If you go to their website, you can take a course and learn the basics of SEO for free!
You’re going to want to install these plugins when starting your blog:
- Yoast SEO – helps with SEO
- Loginizer Security – keeps your website secure
- Google Analytics – helps track where your visitors are coming from
- Smush – reduces image file sizes and boosts SEO
- Social Pug (or any social sharing icon plugin) – gives your readers the ability to share your posts on social media
If you want your website’s security to be safe and to have a higher chance of showing up on search engines, you’re going to need an SSL Certificate.
If you host with GreenGeeks, you can get it for free with Free Let’s Encrypt SSL. Yay, free stuff!
Get a content planner
Are you a journal junkie?
I’m the kind of person who needs to plan out everything or else my life feels like it’s falling apart.
Using a planner while I was starting a blog helped me keep the process organized and stress-free!
The Bloom Daily Journal and Bullet Journal were perfect for my first year of blogging.
You can use them to write down your schedule, stats, ideas, goals, and more!
Start your email list
Your email list should be one of the most important things you focus on for your blog.
This is what’s going to build a real connection between you and your audience. Be consistent (write to them at least once a week). Write to them like you’re talking to one person, and act like that person is your best friend.
Create a freebie that your audience wants and will get if they subscribe to you, nurture them with a welcome sequence, and keep the relationship going from there!
You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) only send an email out when you have a new blog post. You can write about your week or try to get them to follow you on social media. Anything! Just continue building that connection!
I use Mailerlite. It’s easy to use and free until you reach your first 1,000 subscribers.
Use social media to promote your blog
Here comes the fun, but sometimes nerve-racking part: Promoting yourself on social media!
You can either switch your current social media to a business account, or you can start from scratch and create a business account.
Don’t feel like you have to be on every platform. Trust me, I tried it and it was exhausting.
Just choose 2 or 3 that you enjoy using the most and consider where your ideal audience likes to hang out. My main platforms are Instagram and Twitter.
Your bio should be very clear about what you do while showing off your personality. Make sure to include a CTA (call-to-action) at the end of it. You can write something like, “Read the blog for more!”
I always place a pointing down emoji next to the CTA so that it’s pointing at the link in my bio. Remember, the clearer your call-to-action is, the better.
The pictures you post on social media should be visually appealing. No one is going to interact with a blurry low-quality photo — especially if all your photos look like that.
Use sunlight and don’t be afraid to show your face! You don’t have to have a $6,000.00 camera to have Instagram-worthy pictures.
Your posts should be relatable, entertaining, and give value. The point is to make your audience want more! You can give them more by giving them a CTA at the end of your caption.
Tell them to go to your blog, subscribe to your email, or ask them a question!
You need Pinterest if you want your blog to explode. I had zero views one day, and then hundreds the next thanks to Pinterest strategies.
I did this by taking the amazing and extremely affordable Pinterest Course by Ell.
Seriously, it’s so affordable and she could be selling it for way more. Grab it before she comes to her senses!
There’s so much information out there about starting a blog, yet not a lot of them inform you that you have to pay taxes.
If you make any money from your blog, you have to pay taxes.
Just keep in mind that a portion of what you make should be kept aside. I would definitely do research on this if and when you start making money!
Please remember that I’m not a tax professional, and if you have any questions, it’s always best to ask someone who is.
Your brand is what’s going to set you apart from everyone else.
It’s what people are going to think about when they hear you or your blog’s name. It’s more than just a design or logo — it’s you.
Your personality is your brand.
When you do this, you attract an audience who loves you for you and you build a connection with them by showing that you’re human too.
Choose a few things that you love and consistently talk about it in your content.
My audience knows that I’m an eco-friendly dog and cat mom who loves anime. That’s what makes me me and it’s what I want to be known for!
If you want to know more about how to brand your personality, you can read more here.
Now that you know a little bit about branding your personality, you can have a better idea of what you want the designing side of your brand to look like.
Choose 2 to 4 colors that you want to use for your designs (logo, banners, Pins, pictures on social media).
For example, I use white, green, pink, and blue.
I chose these colors because I want my brand to be a mix of bohemian and Sailor Moon. If you look at my Instagram or Pinterest, you’ll see most of my pictures have this vibe, too.
I use Canva to design Pins, banners, logos, and more. It’s super easy to use!
If you want all of your pictures on social media to have a “brand” look, you can buy presets on Creative Market. Most of them are around $20!
Starting a blog for overthinkers
There ya have it! You should be more than ready to start your blog!
If you ever need help walking through a process, like building your website, YouTube is your best friend and you can find almost any tutorial on there.
If you still have any questions, please ask me in the comments! I’ll be happy to answer you and add it to this post. 🙂